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    PBX vs. VoIP: What Separates these Common Phone Systems

    By: Clay Ostlund
    May 22, 2014

    phone_systemThe phone system your company relies upon to communicate both internally and externally is one of the most important infrastructure investments you’ll make. The traditional analog system used to be the dominant solution in office phone systems; but today’s businesses find their phone system purchasing decisions coming down to a choice between the modern Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and the multimedia-savvy Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) network. If your business is looking to replace or upgrade its phone system, you too are going to be choosing between PBX vs. VoIP.

    PBX vs. VoIP

    The PBX phone system is the traditional analog phone system that has been in use for decades. A PBX system consists of direct line-to-line connections made by an exchange. When your employees pick up a phone and make a call to a customer, they are physically connected through the exchange network.

    VoIP systems on the other hand use the Internet to package voice signals into data packets that are transferred over the Internet. So when employees pick up a phone to talk with a customer, the voice signals are transmitted through your network and then over the Internet.

    PBX vs. VoIP Costs

    When it comes to comparing the cost of the two phone systems, VoIP has the advantage in terms of overall cost. Due to a lighter infrastructure load, there is little upfront cost associated with the adoption of a VoIP system. All your business needs are some VoIP-enabled phones and an Internet connection. Additionally, VoIP systems have lower monthly bills and simplified billing because your business no longer needs to pay for separate telephone and Internet service.

    PBX vs. VoIP Reliability

    PBX systems have the advantage when it comes to reliability. The heavy reliance on the Internet with a VoIP system means that if you or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) experiences down time or bandwidth issues, your VoIP phone system quality will suffer. Bandwidth issues will cause call quality to dip and calls to drop. In the event that the Internet goes down locally or off-site at your ISP, then your company’s phone system will go offline as well.

    Without backup, a power outage would shut down your VoIP system because you no longer have power to your network infrastructure. A PBX system, being an independent infrastructure, is not susceptible to these issues.

    PBX vs. VoIP Flexibility

    VoIP systems are generally viewed as being more flexible. A VoIP system is capable of adding users and capacity based upon your changing needs. This flexibility is only limited by your network’s bandwidth and connection to the Internet.

    PBX systems on the other hand are configured with a predetermined number of analog phone lines. If your company’s call volume expands or you add additional employees you may need to purchase more capacity from your telephone provider. This often times requires additional lines being brought into your facility.
    In most cases, adding bandwidth is much simpler than adding capacity through your telephone provider.

    The Modern Solution

    When it comes to VoIP, there are multiple ways to implement and manage it:

    1. Premise based, End User Managed (a do-it-yourself solution)
    2. Premise based, Partner Managed (supported and managed by a service provider)
    3. Cloud based, Partner Managed (supported and managed by a service provider)

    Options 2 and 3 will provide the same experience for you; the only difference is the location of your equipment – on site or in the cloud. If you are considering a VoIP system, which deployment option you choose will be based on your internal resources (do you have the time and talent to manage your system) and your infrastructure preferences; cost savings for one option over another are insignificant, so they shouldn’t weigh heavily on your choice.

    The best solution for your business is the phone system that fits your needs, keeps your phone lines open and helps manage costs effectively long-term. A phone system specialist can help you work through all of these components and recommend the right solution for your company; request an assessment to get started.

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    Topics: Phone Systems, Business Services, flexibility, VOP, cost savings